Hearts boss explains why he thinks Daniel Stendel did not get the best out of Liam Boyce last season


Hearts manager Robbie Neilson has vowed to build his team around Liam Boyce after claiming the Gorgie side did not play to his strengths last season.

Wingers Jordan Roberts, Elliott Frear and Josh Ginnelly are among the six new arrivals at Tynecastle so far this summer and Neilson is confident the trio can provide the service for Boyce to rack up an impressive goal haul in the Championship.

The Northern Ireland international managed two goals – both coming in his first two starts after joining for Burton Albion in January – in ten outings under then boss Daniel Stendel last season.

Robbie Neilson at Tynecastle | Hearts news
Neilson wants his wingers to provide service for the striker

But Neilson is determined to create a style that will get the best out of the 29-year-old, who netted 48 times in 80 appearances during his time at Ross County.

Neilson said: “We need to play to our strengths. 

“We’ve got a top striker like Liam Boyce who thrives on balls into the box and thrives on crosses from wide areas. 

“Look at his time at Ross County, that was his bread and butter.

“He had Craig Curran making movements in behind and had Michael Gardyne putting balls into the box for him. 

“We need to play to our players’ strengths and I think we’ve got a good mix now.

“Maybe last season we weren’t quite playing to Boycie’s strengths. 

“But I think bringing in the players we have will bring him on as well, which is important because he is our main striker. 

“We’ve got players who want to play forward, want to be aggressive and want to go at people one-v-one. 

“That’s what Hearts fans want; they want to see excitement and balls in the box. We’ve brought in players who will do that. 

“It’s also what I want to see as a manager. I want us to be getting through teams and scoring goals.” 


Neilson, meanwhile, admits he is looking forward to working with Mihai Popescu having been impressed by the defender since he was on loan at St Mirren.

The Romanian signed a two-year deal with the Edinburgh side last week in a switch from Dinamo Bucuresti.

The 27-year-old made 21 appearances for the Buddies during the second half of the 2018/19 campaign, including in the play-off final shoot-out victory over Neilson’s Dundee United.

The Hearts boss added: “We played against him when he was at St Mirren and Dundee United played them in the playoffs.

“I knew his strengths and I knew his weaknesses. 

“I spoke to a few people at St Mirren about his character and all the reports were very positive. So I’m delighted to get him. I think he’ll be great for us. 

“He can carry the ball out of defence as well and I know he’s got the bottle to play big games.”